Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Avoiding the Inevitable?

I read a lot of books. Always have. It's what I do and I think what spurred me on to write. I always tried to figure out what the writer did that grabbed my attention and tried to simulate it. On one level, my method worked.

Then I found I needed to go to the next level. Put more of myself into my writing. Find what makes my writing my own style. In some ways, I'm still working on that.

What I haven't done is learn all the technical aspects of writing. My eyes glaze over when I read about scene structure and plot development. I tell myself I will never get all that and never be able to write fiction. It reminds me of why I hated selling real estate. My brain isn't wire that way.

Does that make me a bad writer? Does that make me less than? Does that mean I'll never have a book published?

In my defense, I have read quite a few books on writing and have my favorite ones--the ones I can figure out and make immediate sense. The ones that don't cause me to break out in a sweat.

But I'm still unsure about the next step. Am I fighting the inevitable? Will I have to one day read those books and figure this craft out totally?

Sigh . . . in the meantime, I'll continue to write from the heart. The place I know best.

How about you? Are you taking on the unknown in what you do?


Andrea said...

I feel the same way. I am "happy and content" writing from my heart. I love to read, but sometimes the books on craft just bore me to tears. I end up tossing them in a pile.
My ? is: How does GOD want me to proceed?

Blessings and prayers, andrea

Kristen Painter said...

I have a bunch of craft books but I used them more for reference than just reading straight through. I never was much on them. Haven't cracked one in ages and that certainly didn't stop me from getting a 3-book deal!

MeganRebekah said...

The heart is the best place to write from. Then you go back and use those technical aspects to edit the rough draft. Or get a really good beta!

Janna Qualman said...

I can't work through non-fiction writing books easily, either. I have them for reference, like Kristen said, but I like to see where my natural abilities fall. With my current WIP, I may have to go back and more consciously attack those technical things, because I want it to be my best yet, but I try not to worry over them while writing.

Sassy Granny ... said...

I realize there are formulas and prescriptions for success of all kinds, but something tells me that the depths of the heart can't be constrained by them. It's like telling a bird they have to warble this way or that in order for their song to be heard. Or advising the sea to make swells of certain sizes in order to be noticed as a demonstration of poewr or beauty.

I don't know about the technical sides of life, but I do know about the heart. Pour it out, my friend. You can then refine it any way you want or need too. But likely it'll be a thing of beauty just as it is.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think it's best to just use your intuition and your insight and your own, unique voice when writing. As long as your grammar and spelling are on target, you shouldn't have to study the craft. Just practice it.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lin said...

There's writing left brain creatively and freely then right brain where you come back to the same writing and work it over technically. It's a two part process. Those that write systemically loose the essence or creative spontaneity that is you wanting to come out on the page...at least that's my opinion. I try not to edit till much later but go with the flow.

Jessica said...

Some of the fiction craft things you're probably already doing and don't know it. You've read tons of books and I think instinctively you'll know how one is set up.
I totally understand the eyes glazing over. Trying to "think" things through when all I want to do is write is really hard. That said, I LOVE craft articles, at least when I first started. They're short and to the point.
Just craft articles though, not plotting ones. :-)
You'll find your way and your style, don't worry.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Heck no; your technique doesn’t make you a “bad writer,” or any of those other things Absolutely not, don’t even think about that.

There are writers who write by instinct, (color me into that category) and those who need more structure, storyboarding, outlining, and planning. Neither is right or wrong. Neither is better than the other. It’s simply what works for that person…that’s all.

ES Craig makes a good point above when she says, “…it's best to just use your intuition and your insight and your own, unique voice when writing. As long as your grammar and spelling are on target, you shouldn't have to study the craft. Just practice it.” Absolutely agree.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Greg C said...

Yes I am but that is what makes it exciting. I am going to just keep writing because I enjoy it and if someone thinks something I wrote is worthy of publishing then that is a bonus.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'm with you. Tech books bore me and frustrate me. Then there is contradictions on how to do the right thing. Makes me almost want to give up.

I also write from the heart and my reference books are a dictionary and thesaurus.

Valerie said...

Everyone has said what I wanted to say, so I'll just try and be encouraging. Continue writing from the heart, Terri ... do what's right for YOU.

Yolanda said...

Taking the One that is unknown to many and making Him Known. Perhaps is the very thing of writing from the heart. Lovingly, Yolanda

Stephanie Faris said...

Sometimes it's just about having fun and putting the words on paper. If you really think about it, as much of a dream as getting published is, day by day it's more about YOU enjoying yourself and doing what you love. If you have to give all that up to write what everyone else wants you to write, are you doing that? Probably not.

Jody Hedlund said...

Terri, I think each new phase brings a set of unknowns. I'm so glad that I have all of my blogging friends and the Ultimate Guide to help me traverse those inevitable new paths!

Lazy Writer said...

Great post! I feel the same. But writing from the heart is the most important thing, don't you think?

Jeanette Levellie said...

Terri: No, you are not a bad writer; this aversion to tedium shows your creative nature. Kind of like a person who cooks without a recipe, because they have an inner sense of what will work or not.
I like the idea of using craft books for reference. I own a ton of them, but have rarely read one all the way through.
Great post! You encourage me.

Jill Kemerer said...

I think your plots come together very naturally. Just because you aren't interested in studying it doesn't mean you don't have an innate knack for it.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I think there will always be a lot to learn. Makes me think of Solomon. I just want to learn how to tell a really memorable story and if to do so I have to study all the technical stuff...well so be it (though I might be a little turtle-ish as I go).
~ Wendy

sarah said...

when I write from the heart it flows but when I try to organize into what I 'should' do, I get stuck. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't learn and apply some important steps. Your posts are from your heart. Never lose that. Sarah

Tammy said...

Boy, can I relate. I have books that show me, tell me and encourage me on writing. I even went to my very first Writer's Conference last week.

After the final session was over, my thought was "Are You (God) sure this was for me"? He reminded me these words from one of the keynote speakers. "If God is in it, keep pushing through".

I felt like a tiny fish in a very LARGE pond.

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

You lack writing elements? Join the million writers who don't know everything club! I guess some elements are the difference between an amateur and a professional. We're still writers.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Thank heavens, I'm not the only one who has difficulty reading "how-to write" books. I tend to read them in small doses...a chapter here and a chapter there. I keep one on my desk at all times.

Thanks, Terri, for a down-to-earth look at craft books.

Susan :)

Jan Cline said...

I feel your pain! I keep thinking about all those authors who just sat down and wrote a novel and had great success. And Steven King - he's dyslexic. I've been reading those how to books too and sometimes I think they can steer you away from putting in your personality and style in the words you write. There has to be a balance.

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

It's wise to learn from those who've gone on before but we are who we are because of how WE write.
Use wisdom on the craft and inspiration of the heart in balance.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Oh, I know I'll never know it all, even if I do read every last self-help book on writing there is. Sometimes the technical stuff spoils the experience, don't you think?

From the heart sounds good to me, with a sprinkling of know-how.

Nancy said...

Terri - my unknown is the computer and yes, I am taking it on.

Kathryn Magendie said...

shoot, I glaze over on all that stuff too - never think of it one bit! And, people never notice-they tell me they love the book, so I guess I did my job despite not being able to pay attention to all that -- doesn't mean I don't edit my work and make it the best I can - but I operate on instinct more than anything! I learn as much as my brain will let me - then just do it.